In today’s highly-competitive agency world, getting a job is the first step on the ladder to success. Climbing the agency ladder involves more than just putting in your time and waiting for your turn at a promotion. It involves a commitment to ongoing education and professional development. In recognition of this, some agencies offer education reimbursement as an employment perk.
If your agency is willing to foot the bill to make you more marketable, it’s an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. Taking advantage of an employer-sponsored education reimbursement is like getting a raise twice. You benefit from your conference or class, and then you benefit from being a better educated worker. In the end, you increase your value in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, most employees are too busy to take advantage of their education reimbursement perk. In most cases, education reimbursement is a “use it or lose it” benefit. That means, if $1500 is set aside for you to invest in professional development and you don’t take advantage of it, that $1500 doesn’t rollover to the following year.
Now if you haven’t invested your education reimbursement yet, don’t worry – there’s still time. Here are a few ideas to help advance your career…
Attend an industry related conference
This is a no-brainer. A conference can be a big ticket item but if you plan way in advance, you can take advantage of early bird registration.
If your work involves social media like mine, I highly recommend Social Media Marketing World. It is the best social media conference I have ever attended to date!
Social Media Marketing World provides more than 100 expert-led sessions across seven tracks: Social Tactics, Social Strategy, Content Marketing, Measurement, Small Biz and Social Future.
Online Training Programs
Lynda.com – Lynda is a perfect solution for staying up to date in your field without having to empty your wallet. The site is devoted to professional video-based training that helps you learn software, design, or business skills. Best of all, new courses are added every week and closed captioning is available for most videos which helps with comprehension. A one month investment is $25 and that gives you unlimited access to their vast library.
Udemy.com – Similar to Lynda.com, Udemy offers a huge range of topics but you pay a one time fee to access the content (some content is even free). I also love the fact that you can watch courses on your smartphone. If you’re pretty knowledgeable in a subject, you can even teach a course yourself if you wanted to make it into a side hustle.
Overall, I’d recommend taking courses that focus on:
- Analytics (e.g., Google Analytics)
- Content Development (e.g., Blogging)
- Sales Strategies (e.g., Negotiation)
- Tech Skills (e.g., SEO, WordPress, Mobile Marketing)
My Most Recommended Books
Reading books by some of the world’s great business leaders is a great way to continue your education in marketing and gives you something to talk about while networking. If you can’t see yourself setting aside 30 minutes a day to read a book then try downloading the audiobook—it’s the perfect way to pass time when you’re stuck in traffic.
With that said, here are two books I highly recommend you add to your reading list for 2015.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. I’ll be honest, I got the audiobook first and loved it so much that I bought the hardcover and gave a copy to everyone on my team.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team.
It’s up to you to stay on the cutting edge
These are just a few of the many ways to keep up in our ever-changing industry and let’s be honest, that’s why we chose the agency career path—it keeps us on our toes! Consider every day a new learning experience and, in this new year, challenge yourself to tackle at least two of the ideas above to stay ahead of the pack. You and your clients will benefit.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.